Tuesday October 17, 2023

National Fisherman

Although it took steps to mitigate chum salmon bycatch in Bering Sea pollock trawls, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council fell short of imposing a hard cap at its meeting in October.

 A hard cap would restrict or shut down pollock trawling when the fleet reaches a maximum number of incidental salmon. The council’s inaction marks the latest round in a skirmish between trawling interests and local residents and fishermen living in western Alaska and from other regions in the state.

“We have submitted comments previously in support of a half-million chums,” says Tim Bristol, executive director of SalmonState, in Juneau. “We certainly don’t believe that’s a magic number, but a hard cap for trawlers, when essentially every other sector is facing some kind of restriction or closure, would have sent a message that the council is taking what is a crisis for many Alaskans seriously.”

For the past several years various conservation groups and fisheries associations have railed against the council’s failure to take more action in reducing the bycatch of salmon and crab, and impact on marine habitat. Recommendations by the groups have ranged from complete trawl closures in the Bering Sea to the use of hard caps.

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